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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 3, 1969)
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1969
THE DAILY NEBRASKAN
v EDITOR'S NOTE: Is it true that
pxofcssors are too preoccupied with
research to have time for their
students! Or aren't the students in
terested in getting to know their pro
fessors? Faye Musil, senior in
Journalism, devoted several weeks to
a investigation of these and similar
questions. Her story was written for
wd School c! Journalism depth
bj Faye Musil
'Are students really just numbers
n computer data sheets? Or is it
all just the fantasy of a few students?
The following quotes drawn frim
student questionnaires and faculty in
terviews illustrate the controversy as
it affects the University. The following
"conversation" didn't really happen
but the words are those of pro
fessors and students, put together to
make a conversation.
STUDENT: One of my professors
Is never in his office. I tried many
times during the day.
PROFESSOR: I manage one office
hour a day, because I'm willing to
work two nights a week.
STUDENT: Classes are just too big
In most cases. A teacher can't know
PROFESSOR: A lot of students
don't try much. They go by a
teacher's office a couple of times and
If he's busy they gripe.
STUDENT: Instructors are too
egotistical and too interested in
research. They have no time at all
PROFESSOR: If a student wants
to talk, there are no obstructions.
STUDENT: My adviser seems not
tmwilling but unenthusiastic about
talking to anyone.
PROFESSOR : Students don't
Understand sometimes that teachers
'Teachers are human,' said Dr.
Max Poole, associate professor of
elementary education and educational
administration. And both teachers and
students all over XLTs two campuses
t Lincoln seemed to agree with
varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Teachers are shy and students are
dry, according to H. W. Manter,
curator of parasitology for the
University Museum. An NU teacher
for 40 years before retirement, Manter
gaid that shyness is one of the greatest
reasons why students and professors
don't see more of each other.
HE SAID THAT students are afraid
tt taMag a teacher's time. Teachers,
en the other hand, who would be
delighted to have students show an
Jcterest, think that the students are
uninterested and decline to pressure
(hem. There never has been as much
Contact as there should have been,
Now, Manter added, the problem
has been multiplied by the numbers
Cf students at NU.
Numbers, numbers, numbers.
MAYBE STUDENTS who come to
the university make a psychological
adtnsent to its size before they even
am, theorized Dr. Robert F. Sittig,
assistant professor of political science.
For those who aren't prepared for
large schools, there are always
private colleges, he went on.
"Here I have to hedge, though,"
he said. "Small colleges cost money."
Out of 174 students answering a
questionnaire, 72 listed cost as one
of their reasons for attending NU.
And are those students satisfied
with the relationships they have with
OF THE 72 students, 47 per cent
reported satisfaction and 42 per cent
dissatisfaction. The remaining 11 per
cent were unable to decide, mostly
because they hadn't attended NU long
enough to form any impressions.
These results are similar to the
over-all results of a student question
naire from which they were taken.
Of 181 student respondents, 46 per
cent said they were satisfied and 39
per cent said that they were
dissatisfied with student-professor
What are the causes for such ap
parent student unhappiness?
Numbers, numbers, numbers.
Large numbers of students lead to
large classes. Said one freshman stu
dent, "Classes are just too big in most
cases. A teacher can't know 300
IF A PROFESSOR were to talk with
300 students for only 10 minutes each,
he would spend 50 hours in conversa
tion. But, said Dr. Carroll R. McKib
bis, assistant professor of political
science, a natural conversation can't
be limited to just 10 minutes. Suppose
the professor talks to each student
for 30 minutes. That adds up to 150
hours, almost four weeks. But don't
, is'TW. T".. it . S t ii mil ii"- ii nfc t Umm-
professor, several hundred stude nts . . . a problem of personalization.
t nmnsTwit tnt- fnrtrpt that while the Drofessor is what size his classc
forget that while the professor is
talking to these students, he still must
prepare and deliver lectures. He must
continue his research and attend
faculty, departmental and college
The results? As a student put it,
"Professors have too many students,
not enough time, and are often
overworked to the point where com
ANOTHER STUDENT emphasized
this lack of communication: "The
professor in large lecture courses
doesn't understand the student and
vice versa . . . Students are either
required to attend class or they're
told 'it's up to you'. Both seem indif
ferent ways to handle the situation.
Both are the result of an impersonal
Professors agree that large classes
result in a lack of communication.
McKibbin said that in large classes,
size, as a practical matter, must
determine format Discussion, he ad
ded, is almost impossible in a class
of 150 students. And it's the discussion
that tells a professor what things his
students are having difficulty un
derstanding, he said.
DR. IVAN VOLGYES, associate
professor of political science,
disagreed. He said that he establishes
rapport with his classes by comparing
government situations to human ex
periences. For example, he has com
pared Soviet foreign relations to
courting. The Soviet Union, he has
said, is like a woman trying to
be coy while attempting to get a
Volgyes said he couldn't care less
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what size his classes are. "I just take
them as they come," he said, "and
adjust to them."
According to Sittig, the anonymity
found in large classes isn't all bad.
Students in large classes are graded
on their accomplishments not on
their personalities, he said.
McKibbin, too, saw some good in
large classes. Small classes, he said,
by giving the individual more atten
tion from both professor and other
students, may be embarrassing to a
poor student who needs a large class
to hide in until he can catch up.
But in pharmacy, adjustments
do not need to be made for numbers,
according to Dr. Patrick Wells,
associate professor of pharmacology.
The ratio of students to faculty
members is not so large as in other
departments, he said, and juniors and
seniors spend most of their class time
in the pharmacy building. In this way,
he added, professors get to know their
students on a personal basis. The
students drop by to talk about
anything from football to serious
Dr. John R. Dans, dean of the Col
lege of Architecture and Engineering,
said that there are mostly majors
taking courses in the college. There
are a few large freshman classes,
but these are broken down during lab
sessions, he added.
DR. WILLIAM L. COLVILLE,
professor in agronomy, said that, to
break down large classes, the depart
ment has instituted "audio-tutorial"
labs. The students come into the
laboratory and go through prepared
assignments. If they have any dif
ficulty with their work, an assistant
is on duty in the room 16 hours a
Of large classes Colville com
mented, "If you're taking a balance
of large and small classes, on the
average you're comfortable."
No matter what the size of classes,
Manter said, "students are like in
surance agents. When they stop com
ing, you know you're getting old."
Numbers, numbers, numbers.
TO COMBAT THE problems of
large numbers, the English Depart
ment has set a limit of 30 in freshman
classes. To do this, the department
hires graduate assistants to teach. ;
One graduate assistant, Lynn
Nelson, said that smaller classes
make a more personal atmosphere
He said personal contact and
discussion classes stimulate more
student responsiveness. He said he is
pleased with class participation.
"Education," he argues, "is not
osmosis, absorbing the 'Word from
On High' in order to spout it back,
but a getting involved actively."
BEING A STUDENT and teacher
at the same time dees create some
conflict of interest. Nelson admitted.
It's a problem of loyalties, he ex
plained. "Which is more important,
your studies or your students'?"
Numbers, numbers, numbers.
Another effect of numbers, ac
cording to Eric H. Carlson, political
science instructor, is that any student
professor relationship outside class
must be student-initiated. This is
good, Carlson said, because the
students get whatever they want in
the way of stodent-professor intimacy.
Of course, this is not entirely
without drawbacks, he added.
Students are taught throughout high
Continued Oa Page S
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